Mainstreaming microbes across biomes

Laurence J. Clarke*, Penelope J. Jones, Hans Ammitzboll, Leon A. Barmuta, Martin F. Breed, Anthony Chariton, Michael Charleston, Vongai Dakwa, Fera Dewi, Rajaraman Eri, Nicholas M. Fountain-Jones, Jules Freeman, Dave Kendal, Rebecca McDougal, Eric J. Raes, Swan Li San Sow, Timothy Staples, Brodie Sutcliffe, Ravichandra Vemuri, Laura S. WeyrichEmily J. Flies

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms in the environment (i.e., environmental microbiomes) provide vital ecosystem services and affect human health. Despite their importance, public awareness of environmental microbiomes has lagged behind that of human microbiomes. A key problem has been a scarcity of research demonstrating the microbial connections across environmental biomes (e.g., marine, soil) and between environmental and human microbiomes. We show in the present article, through analyses of almost 10,000 microbiome papers and three global data sets, that there are significant taxonomic similarities in microbial communities across biomes, but very little cross-biome research exists. This disconnect may be hindering advances in microbiome knowledge and translation. In this article, we highlight current and potential applications of environmental microbiome research and the benefits of an interdisciplinary, cross-biome approach. Microbiome scientists need to engage with each other, government, industry, and the public to ensure that research and applications proceed ethically, maximizing the potential benefits to society.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)589-596
    Number of pages8
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


    • Aquatic ecosystems
    • Environmental science
    • Human ecology
    • Microbiology
    • Soil science


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